UN rights chief trusts Bahrain probe to meet standards

30th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN's human rights chief welcomed Thursday Bahrain's move to launch an independent probe of recent unrest and said she was confident it would meet international standards.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also revealed she had held back an assessment mission to the country at the King of Bahrain's request, "because I always encourage credible national investigations."

Bahrain on Thursday appointed a five-man panel to investigate the bloody unrest that erupted during anti-regime protests in February and March.

Pillay noted that two members of the panel -- Mahmud Sharif Bassiouni and Philip Kirsch -- were also part of the inquiry commission ordered by the Human Rights Council on violations in Libya.

"I would trust those individuals, their knowledge of justice and international law to carry out an investigation, in terms of acceptable international standards," she said.

"They are highly respected individuals and I would prefer then to see the outcomes of the investigations" before sending in her own assessment team, she added.

Kirsch is a Canadian lawyer and former president of the International Criminal Court.

Bassiouni, who is leading the Bahrain probe, chaired the UN Security Council's commission to investigate war crimes in the former Yugoslavia in 1992 to 1994.

Despite an apparent calm in Bahrain, tensions are high in the kingdom where the Shiite majority has been hardest hit by a wave of layoffs and law suits that has been denounced by human rights organisations.

Twenty-four people died in the repression of popular protests between mid-February and mid-March, according to official figures from Manama. Four protesters have since died in custody.

© 2011 AFP

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